Welcome to the official StartaBusiness.org entity registration guide for the state of Iowa. As is explained in further detail below, Iowa has an integrated online filing system in which you can submit your registration documents. We have also provided ready-made PDF applications to be sent by mail, though in some instances you will ned to draft a new filing document of your own pursuant to state guidelines. All in all, the filing process is one of the easier and less expensive in the US. Below we have links to all necessary information, websites, and PDF content to take you from A-Z with your new filing. Please scroll down and discover why Start a Business is the leading authority on entity registration in America.
Start an Entity
Search for a Name
Iowa, like most other states in the US, offers a search function to help individuals navigate through their business entity database. Business searches may be implemented as part of the filing process acting as a cross-reference to check a given name’s availability. Likewise, individuals can use the business search function to gain access to a given entity’s Certificate of Existence. For more information on performing a business search in Iowa please see our step-by-step tutorial here.
How to File in Iowa
Step 1- It is strongly recommended, though not legally required, that filers perform a Business Entity Search prior to filing to check the availability of their proposed operating name. Furthermore, it is possible to secure the rights to a business name for 120 days by filing an Application for Name Reservation ($10).
Step 2- Next, you will be able to supply the requisite filing information into the PDF application, or in some instances, drafting your own document pursuant to state guidelines. Select the link below which corresponds with your business type to learn more about the exact filing requirements.
- Domestic Cooperative Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation
- Domestic Professional Corporation
- Domestic Profit Corporation
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation
- Foreign Professional Corporation
- Foreign Profit Corporation
- Domestic Standard Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Professional Limited Liability Company
- Foreign Standard Limited Liability Company
- Foreign Professional Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Limited Partnership
- Foreign Limited Partnership
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
Step 3- The Secretary of State provides ready-made forms for many of the entities listed above, however there are a significant portion which require you, as the filer, to draft your own filing document pursuant only to loose guidelines provided by the state. Regardless of the nature of your filing document, you will need to complete it and, if you represent a foreign entity, attach a certificate of good standing or an analogous document from your entity’s initial jurisdiction.
Step 4- At this point you will need to pay for your filing. Individuals filing online will be able to pay by credit card as they submit their filing. Individuals applying through the mail will need to attach either a check made out to the Secretary of State for the appropriate fee amount (fees listed below) or a completed credit card authorization form to their filing package and submit it to the following address:
Secretary of State
Business Services Division Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
- Domestic Cooperative Corporation- $20
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation- $20
- Domestic Professional Corporation- $50
- Domestic Profit Corporation- $50
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation- $25
- Foreign Professional Corporation- $100
- Foreign Profit Corporation- $100
Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Standard Limited Liability Company- $50
- Domestic Professional Limited Liability Company- $50
- Foreign Standard Limited Liability Company- $100
- Foreign Professional Limited Liability Company- $100
- Domestic Limited Partnership- $100
- Foreign Limited Partnership- $100
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $50
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $100
Entity name reservations in Iowa cost $10 and last 120 days. Completing a name reservation, which may be a good idea if you intend to file a new entity, requires the filling of a PDF form and mailing or delivering it by hand to the Secretary of State along with a payment made by either check or credit card. For more information on name reservations and how to perform such a filing in Iowa please feel free to read through our step-by-step tutorial, available here.
Certificate of Existence
Acquiring a certificate of existence, sometimes known as a certificate of good standing or certificate of status, for an entity is a simple and inexpensive procedure in Iowa. For a mere $5 you can, via the business search portal, acquire the certificate of existence for any entity in Iowa. For more information on acquiring a certificate of existence, which would be necessary for any entity wishing to expand out of state lines, borrow money, and the like, please see our step-by-step tutorial here.
Iowa, like some other states, does not explicitly require the drafting of any organizing documents. However, we highly recommend that, despite the type of entity you intend to form, you include the drafting of some kind of agreement into your initial filing process. These agreements, due to the sparse nature of the required filing documents, will likely be the only documents within your entity which spell out the rules and regulations by which the entity will run. Select the link below which corresponds to your entity to find out more about drafting an agreement of your own. Likewise, find within the aforementioned pages, links to our free PDF and MS Word formatted templates to make the processes easier for you.
Employer Identification Number
New domestic entities may be required, depending of the entity type, to acquire an Employer Identification Number following the acceptance of their registration documents. This number essentially makes your entity taxable, and thus it enables you to pay employees, take out loans, and the like. EINs can be acquired online via the IRS website or through the mail with the submission of the SS-4 Form. For more information on EINs, their purpose, and the acquiring of one, please see our in-depth guide here.